War in the East – 25 Jun 1855

We’re coming to the close of this series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper -giving a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 25 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

 

Monday 25th June 1855

The storm which burst over the south-eastern portion of the Chersonese on Saturday night has done more damage than we could have anticipated. Men were drowncd in ravines converted by the tornado into angry watercourses, were carried off roads by mountain torrents, and dashed against hill sides; beasts were swept away into the harbour and borne to sea; huts were broken up and floated out into the ocean; the burial-grounds near Balaklava were swept bare, and disclosed their grim army of the dead in ghastly resurrection, washed into strange shapes from out their shallow graves; and, greatest calamity of all, the railway was in various places decomposed, ripped up and broken down so as to be unserviceable at our greatest need. Orders have been sent down to urge on the necessary repairs, for the demands of the batteries for shot and shell are pressing, and the electric telegraph has been repeatedly in use to-day to force on the attention of the authorities at Balaklava the necessity there is for their promptest exertions, and to order them to send up supplies of materiel for our fifth bombardment as speedily as possible.

The French say they are quite ready, and they have received from us [1500] 32-pound shot for their guns to-day. The railway fails at a critical period, but even if it were in its usual state we could not hope to be in a condition to begin a heavy fire for some time to come, and I believe it will be fully a fortnight or three weeks before the necessary supplies will be brought up to the front. The repairs to the railway will be effected in ten days. Mr. Beatty and Mr. Campbell are away at Heraclea surveying the coal district, but their representatives are men of energy, and the only obstructions to be dreaded will arise from the “navvies,” some of whom have been behaving very badly lately. They nearly all “struck work” a short time back, on the plea that they were not properly rationed or paid, or that, in other words, they were starved and cheated; but the Provost-Marshal brought some of them to a sense of their situation, and, indeed, the office of that active and worthy person and of his myrmidon sergeants has been by no means a sinecure between “navvies,” Greeks, and scoundrels of all sorts. The Croat insurrection is suppressed, but the Croat idleness has not been by any means stimulated into usefulness. How England is squandering her money broadcast all over this part of the world! The Eupatorians with their 2s. 6d. and 3s. 6d. a-aay, and the Croat with the same stipend, are indeed “beggars set on horseback,” and they fulfil the rest of the proverb.

The poor Turkish soldiers, who get scant pay, say that it would be mach better for them to be those dogs of Croats, who receive as much as their own bimbashis, or majors, than to march in the armies of the Sultan; but Lord Stratford’s hard bargain for us must be accomplished; and it was he who was the benevolent genius who deluged Croatian and Tartar hordes with this flood of wealth. No wonder Colonel M’Murdo finds it difficult to get men for the Land Transport Corps, although even he is obliged to pay 2s. 6d. and 3s. a-day to native suridjees, so completely have we ruined the market.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil